Where are they now? Darren Rooney (Former Laois dual player)
At this time of year the dual player debate tends to make headlines on sports pages as inter-county players reveal their intentions for the upcoming season. Playing two codes is undoubtedly a massive commitment but one that former Laois player Darren Rooney can relate to.
"It's great when you are young and you have no commitments," says Rooney. "You have nothing else to think about and all you want to do is play. But it's a big ask, even back when I started almost 15 years ago you'd want to be doing nothing else, never mind holding down a job. Even since then the level of commitment is gone through the roof. It's grand until you start picking up a few knocks, then the problems start. You have no time for recovery."
Rooney played both hurling and football for Laois right through the underage ranks so when it came to senior level playing both was the natural progression. Of course it helped that his first Laois senior football manager, Mick O'Dwyer, allowed and encouraged him to be a dual player.
"He was unreal, his enthusiasm and without saying anything he got everyone's respect. If he asked you to run around the field 50 times, you did it and didn't ask why. He had no problem with me playing hurling and that shows the man he was."
Rooney won a Leinster title under the Kerryman's stewardship in 2003 and although he played in three more provincial finals during his career, he failed to add to his tally.
In 2005, he won an O'Byrne Cup, and today Laois take on Wexford in the first round of that competition and Rooney knows from experience the benefits the competition can bring.
"The O'Byrne Cup is great for players. At that time of the year you are training so hard but at least you know you have games coming up. It's something to look forward to and competitive games give you a good indicator of where you are at."
A knee injury forced his inter-county retirement at the end of 2010, but he recovered sufficiently to play both senior hurling and football with his club Parnell's. Rooney has been playing for the Dublin side for over five years and has no plans to hang up his boots. He's a garda based in Tallaght, is married to Mary Bridget and they have a daughter Annie.
Quote of the week
'I'll never forget it; the highs don't ever match the lows, that is the whole thing, avoiding lows'
-- Recalling the World Cup in 2007, Ronan O'Gara gives some insight into the life of a professional athlete
Number of the week
The number of Gaelic football games scheduled for today. There is action in the O'Byrne Cup, McGrath Cup and McKenna Cup as well as the FBD League
Have your say
Let's give ref plan red card
Thank goodness for Jim Glennon who recognises the importance of club and youth rugby in Ireland.
Many people involved with the club game, and particularly at youth level (club and schools), are concerned by a recent recommendation of the IRFU Referees Committee. It has proposed that each provincial Referees' Association/Society should introduce a compulsory retirement age of 60, regardless of fitness and competence, for officials at every level right down to the youngest age group of players.
The stated reason for this is 'Health and Safety'. It cannot be safety of referees themselves (a referee officiates at his/her own risk) or safety of players (there is no evidence in sports law which suggests that players are at greater risk than normal when an older referee is in charge -- indeed, those involved in youth rugby prefer experienced referees).
In Ulster, there is already a serious shortage of referees and a strenuous campaign is being mounted against the proposal. If it is accepted, then referees over 60 have several options -- they can return to playing (no age limit), they can participate in marathons, triathlons and long-distance cycling (many already do) or they can qualify as GAA referees. Pat McEneaney (GAA referees officer) says "they can referee until they are 90"!
Are you with us, Jim?
Assistants of very little help
Congratulations to Brendan Fanning on his well thought-out article in your publication of December 29. I find Brendan is always 'on the ball' with his comments. I would, however, suggest that in covering 'the best and the worst of times' he would have gained even more support had he provided rugby enthusiasts with the best and the worst from referees and those loosely referred to 'assistants', who in the opinion of many rugby supporters are at times more of a hindrance than a help.
It may well be of course a similar problem to that mentioned by William Doheny, that they do not speak a language which is mutually understood, some 'assistants' do not wish to make personal decisions so the poor old TMO has to track back several frames to help out. It would surely be of help to both referees, assistants and aficionados if the referees assessor's report was published for all to read. That may well clear up misunderstandings.
Another view of FRC revamp
IN relation to the recommendations from the FRC on the possible revamp of the All-Ireland football championships, I suggest the following:
1) Keep Leinster 'Eight' and Ulster 'Eight', as proposed by the FRC Report II.
2) Reduce Munster and Connacht to four-team SFs -- and link them to form two halves of one 'Eight' region. The champs play off (for the 'Conference of Munsacht' title).
3) These 'Three Eights' play three knockout rounds -- the three champs go to AI QFs -- while round losers in quantities of 12, 6 and 3, enter the Qualifiers in Rounds 2, 3 and 4, respectively.
4) The less successful should not be 'foreign agents' in neighbouring provinces, nor get a 'third chance' -- instead give them an 'Eight' of their own.
5) This 'Less Successful Eight' (Leinster 3, Ulster 1, Munster 2 and Connacht 2) form a 'segregated quasi-fifth province' (could be called, based on acronym, 'CLUM-ster') -- the initial 'Eight' also exclusively serving as Qualifiers Rd 1 -- continue through three knockout rounds to determine who claims the Tommy Murphy Cup (TMC) and a place in Qualifiers Rd 4, merging with the nine remaining teams from the 'Three Eights'.
6) The 'Less Successful/TMC Eight' are determined by low-league placings from ALL four provinces (rather than two as proposed in FRC II) -- and are ineligible for participation in 'home' provinces -- but the four beaten in TMC QFs get a second chance in a new 'Tommy Murphy Shield', a stand-alone competition with no path to Sam.
7) Finally, to avoid any incentive to take the TMC or 'Easy 8' route year after year, the TMC champion is automatically 'promoted' to participate in its 'home province Eight' the following year, regardless of league placing.
Is this not better?
Anthony 'Tony' O'Mahony
When is a star not a legend?
IT has come to my notice that the Irish media calls the best players at most English Premier League clubs 'stars' while the best Man United players are called 'heroes' and 'legends'.